SERENITY, SPIRITUALITY AND SUN: Remembering Santa Fe & Taos

Brooding Santa Fe Museum of Indian Arts and Culture

Santa Fe Indian Museum, New Mexico Skies

Sometimes, I am compelled to take NJWILDBEAUTY readers into my ‘memory bank’, especially on gloomy New Jersey days.  The entire sky this morning is filmed with grey, –somewhere between fog and soot.   It’s hard for me even to remember sun. But it was ever-present in Santa Fe and Taos in the spring.

StoryTeller Santa Fe Museum of Indian Arts & Culture

STORYTELLER, BY A. E. HOUSER, Santa Fe Indian Museum

Two of ‘my’ Intrepids and I, as you know, undertook a Georgia O’Keefe pilgrimage in Santa Fe and Taos.  Janet Black and Jeanette Hooban were part of this quest. Carolyn Yoder is the fourth — not present in O’Keeffe Country at that time.  Sometimes we call ourselves The Four Musketeers — Janet (of Manhattan) being d’Artagnan; as in not always near enough to partake of every challenge.  All for one and one for all, and always seeking — art, history, courage..

In Houser’s “Storyteller” above, a man’s image of a strong woman inspires us, “stiffens our spines” in the urgent causes on every side in thus 21st Century.

Motherhood Pearl Buck Estate July 2017

Motherhood statue at Pearl S. Buck Estate — Buck adopted six children of mixed race, spent her lifetime insisting  upon honoring what we now call ‘diversity’

Pearl Buck Grave July 2017

“Gone, but Not Forgotten” — Pearl S. Buck’s being and ideals

Here, she rests in her beloved Bucks County, PA,

surrounded by bamboo and lilies.

All four of us, as you well know, require regular doses of strong women, Eleanor (Roosevelt, of course) above all.  Abigail Adams.  Pearl S. Buck.  And Georgia, always Georgia, — modern in art and dress and life, before there was much ‘modern’ in the United States.  As this interweaving of strong women unfolds this morning, I sense that each, that all, would insistently approve of the motto of Al Gore’s splendid new film on climate change: “BE INCONVENIENT!”  (This has become my motto for my upcoming birthday year.”

All of these women lived by strong and high ideals.  Each engendered practical change, against all odds, from the 1700s through the 20th Century.  They stood against prejudice and insularity, for compassion and courage.  They took bold actions; wrote strong words; painted reverberant works to convey the truths by which they lived.  We honor them, especially by visiting their sites, for courage, for being the original Intrepids.

800px-WLA_amart_Adams_Memorial

Augustus St. Gauden’s Statue in Washington D.C., which comforted Eleanor in her travails.

Riverside Park Statue Eleanor Rroosevelt-

Eleanor Roosevelt Memorial, Riverside Park, NYC

Prayer Santa Fe Indian Museum

Prayer, by A. E. Houser: Santa Fe Indian Museum

When I began this blog, I thought it was going to be about wallowing in the wild, complex, ever-changing sunlight on the mountains and adobes of New Mexico.

Adobe Outbuilding Santa Fe Museum of Indian Arts & Culture

Sun on Simple Adobe, so very Georgia! (Indian Museum, Santa Fe)

The Universe had other ideas.  I need to enshroud myself with strength and courage.

fig. 78: Alfred Stieglitz

Iconic Georgia O’Keeffe by Alfred Stieglitz from Internet

The world as we know it is being altered exponentially, by political forces seemingly beyond our control.  I’ve ‘been there’ before,   as Hitler, Mussolini and the Japanese sought to rearrange the world.  I never understood how the Germans or the Italians could go along with those tyrants.

It never occurred to me that our own country could be usurped and taken in directions with which most of us do not agree.  Politically and climactically, we are poised to lose everything we hold dear.

Abigail and Eleanor and Pearl and Georgia stood firm against currents of their time.  For women, for freedoms, for children of other lands, for art, for feminine dress itself, in Georgia’s time, and against prejudice..

It’s up to us to do likewise.

Abigail Adams Portrait from Internet

“John, remember the women,” Abigail Adams 1770’s –As Declaration of Independence and our Constitution, were being composed…

In the lexicon of Alfred Stieglitz, publicizing all art, especially Georgia’s, ” The spiritual was opposed to material and modern art was materialism’s antidote,” insists the catalogue from “Georgia O’Keeffe, Living Modern”, [Brooklyn Museum exhibition].  Brilliantly authored by Wanda M. Corn, it goes on to assert that “Stieglitz described his artists, not as ordinary beings, but as gifted modern seers.” He found their avant-garde work “healing and therapeutic for those living in an age dominated by commerce and business.”  

Realize that Stieglitz and O’Keefe’s first command of the art stage took place in the 1920’s!

As the values of our Founding Fathers and Mothers, our powerful authors, out iconic artists are increasingly trampeled, “BE INCONVENIENT!?

The Harsh Southwestern Landscape seems a breeding ground for strength:

Late Afternoon Santa Fe Indian Museum

“CACTUS ED” ABBEY ON MY MIND

“The earth is not a mechanism, but an organism.”                   Ed Abbey, The Journey Home

[Being in the Southwest] “is a treasure best enjoyed through the body and the spirit…, not through commercial plunder.”                                                       Ed Abbey, The Journey Home

“Are we going to ration the wilderness experience?”                 Ed Abbey, The Journey Home                              delicate-arch-arches-national-park-utah

Delicate Arch, Canyonlands, from Internet

The more I experience of man’s inhumanity to the Planet, –especially in overpopulated, pipe-line-threatened New Jersey–, the more I need Ed Abbey at my side. 

Right now, horrified at the success of the multi-billion-dollar-funded Climate Change Deniers (see This Changes Everything – Capitalism vs. the Climate by Naomi Klein), I’m reading Adventures with Ed by Jack Loeffler.  The  author hiked and ate and drank and discussed and even fought with Ed during his lifetime. 

The two made a solemn pact that neither would let the other die in a hospital.  A pledge Loeffler was barely able to keep, but did.  The secret burial site required by Ed was facilitated, honored and often visited by Loeffler.  He would bring beer, –one poured for Ed; one drunk by himself, whenever he made that pilgrimage.

Everything about which we have been warned by Naomi Klein and 350.org and James Hansen and and Elizabeth Kolbert and Bill McKibben and probably even Rachel Carson and even the Nobel Prize Committee and Al Gore, is described in chapter and verse of anything by and about Abbey. 

A professed non-naturalist and determined “desert rat”, — who claimed to want to turn into a vulture upon dying–, Ed showed us the Southwest as the Poster Child for military/industrial/Big Coal/Big Gas/Big Copper ruinations.

McKibben issued his clarion call when The End of Nature was published in 1989.  He is still calling.  Abbey’s pivotal Desert Solitaire brought us to attention to commercial despoilations of our planet, especially in the Southwest, in 1968   Is anybody listening?

My first attention to the plight of our pPlanet came through Ed’s articles, as  well as through his seminal non-fiction work, Desert Solitaire. 

My first protests began and accelerated with the proposal to dam the Grand Canyon (!yes!) and another to build an enormous coal-fired generating station on the Kaiparowits Plateau, fouling the Four Corners region sacred to countless Indian tribes.

In those enlightened days, popular magazines published words and memorable images of the beauties we seemed fated to lose, as we now stand to lose New Jersey’s last green spaces to Pipelines conspiracies.  That’s when I joined the Sierra Club and Greenpeace, and ‘adopted whales’ through a Provincetown non-profit, as my daughters’ main Christmas presents.

Ed, whom I did not yet ‘know’ from that one volume (still most successfully in print) said it first.  Working as I do for D&R Greenway Land Trust, though I am speaking here as my very private, very opinionated self, I see perils to nature at every turn.  Some of which incursions we can prevent, and in some cases turn around.  Every year of the benighted 21st Century, it becomes more and more clear to me that Ed was a remarkable prophet, as well as a stirring author.  (Read his novel, The Monkey Wrench Gang, if you don’t believe me.)

Ed is carefully quoted by Jack Loeffler, –from a speech Abbey was asked to give to St. John’s College in Santa Fe, in his beloved New Mexico:  “WILDERNESS IS WORTH SAVING FOR ITS OWN SAKE.”  This was 1975.  “Not for human benefit or pleasure.  Wild things and wild places have a right to exist and to continue existing…  Bees. birds, animals, snakes, buzzards, bugs, whatever, have a legal and moral right to continue. Even rocks have the moral right to continue being rocks.”

Those of you who read my US 1 (Business) Newspaper Cover Story on Four Shady Walks this week [princetoninfo.com], have absorbed my passion for the towering boulders of the Sourlands trail off Hopewell’s Greenwood Avenue.  This haven taught me that not only trees and flowers, animals and insects,  –but the very rocks themselves–, exude spirit.  One is changed, –of course for the better–, in their midst.  One is stilled, inspired and strengthened merely walking among them.  Even more-so, sitting upon the most majestic rocks at the end of the blue trail, their ancient reality, their connection to creation, seeps  into and surrounds one.

You who read this blog, who did read NJ WILD all those years with the Packet, have seen images of those rocks.  They impact me like Chartres and Mt. St. Michel.  But you must go there in timelessness.  You must allow them to realize that you are open to their beings, and sometimes, even their messages.  You might apologize aloud for humans who ferried them away and pulverized their eminences into gravel and Belgian blocks.  To say nothing of the angry and misguided who defaced them with (now effaced, but never forgotten) wild graffiti last fall.  You might also make amends to noble beech trees along the trail, scarred by (to me, inexplicable) human need to carve their initials upon their sacred skin.

Ed insists, and I have always agreed, the Bible has it wrong.  “Man was NOT put here to have dominion over all things…  The earth was here first, and all these living things before us.”  Ed, also, –whose great joy was scrambling over rocks and boulders, mountains and peaks, preferably in sere desert landscapes–, goes on to tell the St. John’s students:  “Is it not possible that rocks, hills, and mountains, may enjoy a sentience, a form of consciousness, which we humans cannot perceive, because of vastly different time scales?”  His most outrageous proposition, which I find irresistible, is “…consider that we are thoughts in the minds of mountains, or that all humanity is a long, long thought.”

His (temporary, for Ed never gave UP on these themes) conclusion is, “As mind is to body, so is humanity to earth.  We cannot dishonor one without dishonoring and destroying ourselves.”

The Intrepids and I turn together to Eleanor Roosevelt and Georgia O’Keeffe, to stiffen our spines for the battles demanded in the 21st Century, to carry on to victories small and large upon which the Planet’s very survival depends.  Privately, every single year, I turn to Ed.

Ed ruminates on reverberations of research: “Science leads to technology…, and industry.  It’s what [science] can lead to that could be bad… Things go wrong, and scientists (and the Army Corps of Engineers, adds Carolyn-of-New-Jersey) are called in to think up remedies.  More and more, the system comes to rely upon remedial tinkering.  It becomes ever more centralized until utter collapse is inevitable.”  Outrageous Ed dares to say “the sooner, the better”, which quip I do not applaud.  But his conclusion is essential, “Then, maybe, we can stamp out this blight, this cancer of industrialization.”

When our beautiful –state, with its marvelous green preserves of forest and farmland–, is reduced to a “What Exit?” joke…  When everyone’s view of this entity formerly known as The Garden is a plethora of tanks and chimneys and wires and overpasses.  When our sacred Shore is eyed by Big Power as one long limitless oilfield — it’s time to pay attention to Ed.  Read him.  Write letters to editors.  Protest every pipeline suggestion/appropriation.  Support your local land trusts, who are trying to turn the tide of ruination decried by Ed Abbey, the Hemingway of preservation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RETURN TO THE SOUTHWEST

“A green and pleasant day” of hikes, today (Friday), on New Jersey’s Bull’s Island, in the middle of the Delaware River.

Delaware's Watery Beauty, Spring

Azalea Season, View of Pennsylvania from woods on Bull’s Island, NJ

Followed by a sinuous, climbing drive up the Delaware’s other bank, into deeply forested Pennsylvania.  Silos rose against a gentle sky, and farmstands lured with hand-lettered signs.

Fay Lachmann, key adventure buddy who has been in other geographies lately, initiated this excursion.  As she drove, Fay reminisced about recent blogs on Janet’s Jeanette’s and my Santa Fe and Taos journey.

Carversville inn PA Jan. 2015

Carversville Inn, Carversville PA, decorated for Christmas

Our goal was Carversville, its storied Inn.  We settled into possibly my best meal ever in that 1800s structure.  Fay’s enthusiasm for wild skies, weathered adobe, sagebrush seas in my recent blogs suffused me with longing for our Southwest.

In the midst of all that greenery, I decided to come home and take NJWILDBAUTY readers back to Santa Fe.  I have left a part of my soul in that land of sand and sage and juniper, walking amongst the quaint and the rustic; challenged and intrigued by the tough and the vivid.

I especially miss art at every turn.  Here is Canyon Road of Santa Fe, Gallery Central, unfurling like a tapestry beneath technicolor skies.

Santa Fe W indows Canyon Road

Santa Fe Wall, Canyon Road

Blue Swan and Water 'Feature'  Canyon Road Scenes 001

Blue Swan and “Water Feature” — Canyon Road Gallery

Native  Canyon Road

Essence of the Southwest, Canyon Road

locoweed Canyon Road Scenes

Jimson Weed Blooms on Canyon Road

Canyon Road Mailboxes

Small Town Mailboxes, Vivid Curb, Canyon Road Galleries

Master Gardeners of Santa Fe Art Canyon Road

The Secret Garden of Canyon Road, Tended (especially WATERED!) by Santa Fe’s Master Gardeners

Symphony in Blue Canyon Road

Symphony in Blue, courtesy of Santa Fe’s Master Gardeners

Columbine Canyon Road

Classic Western Flower — Columbine

Bliss on a Colonial Swing of Canyon Road

Blissed! Intrepids at Rest on swing of colonial house, facing garden

Colonial Retreat Canyon Road

Leaving the Porch, to return to Canyon Road itself

Beneath Old Adobe  Canyon Road

What’s Underneath Very Old Adobe

Vintage Doorway Canyon Road

Vintage Santa Fe Doorway

Georgia O’Keeffe’s Abiquiu Home and Studio

Come with us, far from politics and disasters and overweening technology — back to timeless New Mexico, and Georgia O’Keeffe’s Abiquiu refuge.  She carried this ‘rack’ of antlers home from a desert walk.  Devoted helpers mounted it.  No more appropriate welcome to her home and studio exists than the abstract simplicity of this doorway, and its iconic crest.

Georgia Door

Georgia’s Door, Home and Studio, Abiquiu, New Mexico

Georgia's Favorite Tree

Georgia’s Favorite Tree

Georgia's Ladder to the Sky  Abiquiu

Essential Ladders to Tend Adobe Rooftops

Barbara, Guide to O'Keeffe Home and Garden

Magnificent Guide, Barbara, and Georgia’s Garden, being restored by local students

Georgia's original trees, restored garden

Georgia’s Original Trees and Restored Garden, flood-irrigated once each week

Georgia Stones

Georgia’s River-Washed Stone Collection – Rio Grande Not Far

Georgia Sculpture

Early Georgia O’Keeffe Sculpture

Georgia's Abiquiu View of her mountain  Pedernal

Georgia’s View of “Her” Mountain – Pedernal – Where Her Ashes Rest

Georgia's Abiquiu Road

Georgia’s Winding Abiquiu Road

Barbara Guide and O'Keeffe's Road and Abstraction

Barbara Showing Us Georgia’s Extreme Abstraction of Her Abiquiu Road

Sheep below O'Keeffe Home

Sheep Below Georgia’s Bedroom and Studio

Adobe Perfection  Georgia's Window Abiquiu

Georgia’s Iconic Doorway – Catalyst for Countless Southwest Abstractions

Georgia's Outdoor Stones Abiquiu

Georgia’s Outdoor Stones as SHE Arranged Them

Georgia's Restored Garden with Marigolds

Georgia’s Irrigated Restored Garden, flowers and foods, with marigolds for pest control

Farewell View of Pedernal from Abiquiu O'Keeffe Home

Farewell View, Around the Corner from Georgia’s Studio and Austere Bedroom

Abiquiu Gateway to the High Desert

Garden Gateway, Abiquiu Inn — Where You Lunch and Catch Bus for Scheduled Visit to Georgia O’Keeffe’s Home & Studio

Abiquiu Inn Cottonwood Trees

Abiquiu Inn Cottonwoods, and the Cotton Bits Were Floating Like Snow

Abiquiu Inn Gateway

Abiquiu Inn Farewell

Abiquiu Inn Acequia

Abiquiu Inn Acequia — Carrying Scarce and Precious Water from the Rio Grande

WALKING SANTA FE STREETS WITH THE INTREPIDS

Land of Enchantment

LAND OF ENCHANTMENT

Your traveling blogger greatly appreciates the intense comments on our recent Taos scenes.  We began our trip to the High Desert in Santa Fe, coming in on a golden evening, heading from Albuquerque’s airport to Santa Fe’s ordinary but acceptable Best Western.  Next door was a shop whose sign read “Unlimited Firearms — Big Discounts for Cash”.  One of their major windstorms soon played havoc with the sign before I could photograph it for NJWILDBEAUTY.  This is not the form of ‘wild’ I had in mind when I named this communication op…  I considered going INto that shop to see what I could see…  Was not so ‘intrepid’, after all…

La Fonda Lunch Bell Tower

END OF THE TRAIL

The heart of Santa Fe is no longer the holy faith after which it was named.  Nor even the cathedral of Archbishop Lamy.  It is La Fonda Hotel.  Hundreds of years old, its name signifies the end of the, YES!, Santa Fe Trail.  We ate in every one of its restaurants, each more interesting and gratifying than the previous, even a French one for afternoon respite from the inescapable dazzle of sun.

High Noon Welcome La Fonda Bell Tower

BELL TOWER RESTAURANT — HIGH NOON — Note container of lemon/lime/ ice/water for arriving guests

We went West for Georgia O’Keeffe.  Know that Georgia’s spirit prevails in her museum in Santa Fe and home/studio in Abiquiu.  This museum held her earliest, most abstract, even most daring (nude self portraits in watercolor) works.  We had always known there was  more to Georgia than flowers and skulls and storms over Lake George.  Her museum and her home/studio proved this indelibly.  We might dare to call Georgia an original Intrepid, along, of course, with Eleanor (Roosevelt).

Object of our Quest Santa Fe

OBJECT OF OUR JOURNEY – GEORGIA O’KEEFFE MUSEUM OF SANTA FE

The most exciting aspect of Santa Fe for me was the museum of Indian Arts and Culture.  I’ll let the images speak for themselves.  Just know, –if you’re a fan of Maria’s black-on-black San Ildefonso pottery–, you can feast your eyes on it in Santa Fe and Taos.  You will find whole rooms dedicated to this master artist.  You will even see her clothing and her own personal Navajo jewelry, in your wanderings.  You may depart even more impressed/committed, even obsessed, than ever.

Brooding  Santa Fe Museum of Indian Arts and Culture

Afternoon at Santa Fe Museum of Indian Arts and Culture

A few Museum of Indian Arts and Culture scenes for you – full blog later.  We spent our entire afternoon up there!  We particularly could not resist returning to this icon:

Ready for Battle

READY FOR BATTLE – Outdoor sculpture at Santa Fe Museum of Indian Arts and Culture

End of Trail at Santa Fe Museum Indian Arts etc.

REPLETE! — THE END OF THE TRAIL; Santa Fe Museum of Indian Arts and Culture

The West thrilled and filled.  Our hearts, our spirits often return there.  We greatly miss BEING there.  But a certain level of roughness is required.  And, as Janet gently observed, “I have to keep reminding myself that lawlessness is the norm.”  I require that level of light, those levels of change in the clouds.  I could return to find ‘my’ Navajo woman and her luminous art and liquid language on the hem of Santa Fe’s Governor’s Palace.  But I will always be a visitor.

Santa Fe Silhouette at Museum of Indian Arts & Culture

MY HEART REMAINS

New Jersey and Pennsylvania wildnesses are filling me anew.  And Lenapes are replacing Navajo and Apache and Hopi and Tewa.  Most of the time…

 

 

GHOST RANCH ~ GEORGIA O’KEEFFE AT HOME NEAR TAOS

Janet Black, Jeanette Hooban and I, –as July was born-, traveled to New Mexico on a Georgia O’Keeffe Quest.  Firstly, in Santa Fe.  Then to her home and studio in Abiquiu, near Taos; then to Ghost Ranch, where she first leased, then owned a house in the Southwest.

I remain speechless before the magnitude of beauty we encountered at every turn, every moment bringing cataclysmic changes in clouds, shadows and drama.

We are more inspired than ever by the  lofty talents of this artist – so abstract and unique so young (in 1915, 16, etc.!), like no one else anywhere ever.  Thiw woman cannot be described nor encompassed.  Georgia belonging to no ‘school’, painted from within.

As you see, this phenomenal artist was inspired by what she claimed as her everyday surroundings.  Her sites and sights would overwhelm ordinary mortals. But Georgia immortalized mountain majesty, without descending, even momentarily, into the trite or the trivial.

We learned nothing of her literary influences.  But Georgia lived her life on EVERY level, according to the key lines of Hamlet:  “… and this, above all… to thine own self be true…”

Janet, Jeanette and I walked very slowly away from the Georgia-sites.  We now have a new yardstick for life:  “What would Georgia do?”

 

Ghost Ranch Gate

GHOST RANCH GATE – Georgia O’Keefe’s First Southwest Homeland

Ghost Ranch Gate with Bullet Dents

GHOST RANCH SKULL — GATE — NOTE BULLET HOLES — This is the West!

Ghost Ranch Gate Ranch Side

GHOST RANCH GATE, RANCH SIDE

Ghost Ranch Wagon

GHOST RANCH WAGON AND SOUTHWEST’S CLOUDS

Ghost Ranch Wagon and OKeeffe Mountains

GHOST RANCH WAGON, COTTONWOOD AND GEORGIA O’KEEFFE MOUNTAINS

Ghost Ranch Cabin

GHOST RANCH CABIN

Classic Acequia Ghost Ranch

GHOST RANCH ACEQUIA — TO BRING WATER FROM RIO GRANDE

Ghost Ranch Flags and Clouds

GHOST RANCH FLAGS AND CLOUDS

Georgia's Pink Rocks near Ghost Ranch

GEORGIA ROCKS NEAR GHOST RANCH

Ghost Ranch Ride from Abiauiu

GEORGIA’S RIDE FROM GHOST RANCH HOME TO ABIQUIU AND BACK

The Cloud-Builder Ghost Ranch Drive

THE CLOUD-BUILDER

We felt as though we could walk across the Rio Grande (Grand-ee) – which Janet re-named ‘The Rio Petito’.

Rio Grande near Ghost Ranch

RIO GRANDE NEAR GHOST RANCH

Rio Grand Islands near Ghost Ranch

RIO GRANDE ISLANDS EN ROUTE TO AND FROM GHOST RANCH

Georgia OKeeffes Mountain  Pedernal Ghost Ranch ride

GEORGIA’S MOUNTAIN – THE PEDERNAL

Ghost Ranch Georgia Hues

WHY SHE PAINTED WHAT SHE PAINTED!

Ghost Ranch Surroundings Pedernal OKeeffes ashes here

PEDERNAL — WHERE HER ASHES WERE SCATTERED

INTREPIDS ~ AT HOME IN TAOS

Our miracle trip has come and gone.  But the keeper of NJWILDBEAUTY discovers, “My heart’s in the high desert.”

Mountain from Patio

Mountains from Back Patio, Taos

Day is Done...

Last Light on Our Adobe Home, Red Truck, and Mountains

Contemplation

Contemplation: Jeanette Hooban, Janet Black on Back Patio at Sundown

Porch Pillar

Quality Craftsmanship of our Taos Home

Gold Sought by Spain

Gold Fruitlessly Sought by Spain

Front Hall with Umbrella Taos

Art Pottery and 21st-Century Umbrella

Kitchen Window View

Kitchen Window View – a Sea of Sagebrush

Part of Pot Collection

One Part of Ancient Pottery Collection

Sea of Sage and Statue

Sea of Sage and Mysterious Statue

Mountain Reflections from Patio-Porch

Reflection in Jeanette’s Window, from Back Patio

Last Light

Last Light — Lowering Sun This Intense

Afterglow

Afterglow

The Old and The New

The Old and the New — in Indian Country

Classic Car Taos Driveway

The Old, as in Classic Cadillac — Note Rio-Grande-Washed Gravel — yes, EVEN the GRAVEL was beautiful!

Taos Morn

Neighbor Walking His Dog past Corn Maiden Statue in our Driveway

The Neighborhood at Nightfall

Our Neighborhood at Sundown

Taos Farewell

Taos Farewell Drive